Online activist group Anonymous brought down more than 40 Web sites belonging to the Malaysian government, in what appeared to be a retaliation move against censorship, a news report revealed.
Quoting the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), newswire Reuters reported Thursday morning that 51 Web sites were hit, among which at least 41 were disrupted. The incidents happened before midnight on Wednesday; MCMC said the attacks were reduced by 4.00 a.m. this morning.
According to The Borneo Post, Anonymous had forewarned the attacks. In posts on pastebin.com dated Jun.12, the group allegedly condemned the government's censorship of sites including The Pirate Bay and WikiLeaks as well as the blocking of movies and television shows.
Calling the Malaysian government "one of the world's strictest governments", Anonymous said "acts of censorship are inexcusable" and told the country to "be prepared".
Prior to the attack, the MCMC had blocked several Web sites, but on the grounds that those sites had infringed copyright laws, said Bernama.
Screenshot of Sabah Tourism Board Web site during downtime
According to an official who spoke to Reuters, no personal or financial data were compromised in the attacks. However, local news site The Star reported that user accounts and passwords were stolen from the Sabah Tourism Web site and the data released to the public.
A security expert argued that the attacks on some of the sites were likely to be carried out by independent hackers and not Anonymous. Speaking to The Star, Dhillon Andrew Kannabhiran of Hack In The Box noted that sites such as www.sabahtourism.com, www.thetourmalaysia.com.my and www.cidb.gov.my were hacked and defaced on Wednesday. Anonymous had warned that it would attack at 3.30 a.m. Thursday.
Anonymous' attacks, he pointed out, are coordinated and the group "keeps to its word when launching its attacks".